Speak Out Against Misleading Driver
March 17, Washington DC–Recently, the Coalition for a Secure Driver's License, released a television advertisement regarding the issue of illegal immigrants' access to photo IDs and drivers' licenses. The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) acknowledges the importance of this issue, however, must raise some serious concerns about the advertisement.
The advertisement incorrectly conflates the issues of immigration and national security while also inflaming fears about Arabs, Muslims, and Arab-Americans. In effect, the Coalition for a Secure Driver's License utilizes anti-terrorism rhetoric to push their anti-immigration agenda. The TV spot, which began airing March 15, was created by Stevens Reed Curcio & Potholm who also created the "Swift Boat Veterans and POWs for Truth" campaign during the 2004 Presidential elections. To view the advertisement click here
The ad, which has been the subject of some public and media attention, juxtaposes images of an "American" family with images of the 9-11 terrorists. Meanwhile, the voice over states that families all across the US depend on a national security system of many interlocking pieces. The advertisement says that "since each year, millions sneak into the U.S. illegally, our security is still in danger. Its simply too easy for those determined to harm us to secure valid I.D."
Throughout the TV spot, there are images of a Middle Eastern looking man attempting to get a driver‘s license. The man's ethnicity is subtly reinforced when he fills out a form using the last name "Al-Gha "
The implication made by the ad is that the events of 9-11 could have been avoided had there been stricter license measures in effect. This association is simply misleading, especially considering that none of the 9-11 terrorists were illegal immigrants, and therefore would have been able to procure licenses regardless of changes in State laws. Crucially, the campaign aims to influence debate in the Senate over the Real ID Act, which includes drivers' licenses legislation. The Act also includes many troubling provision that threaten the civil rights and liberties of all Americans. To learn more about the REAL ID Act click here
ADC is concerned that the imagery, which seemingly depicts an Arab man as a threat to national security, will incite further mistrust towards Arab Americans and Arabs. While ADC values fair and honest political debate, this advertisement transgresses the boundaries of political discussion and instead relies on stereotypes and hatemongering to support its views